The Big Book of Runes and Rune Magic: How to Interpret Runes, Rune Lore, and the Art of Runecasting - Edred Thorsson 2018
Foundations of Rune Magic
Through a combination of the runes and the vitki's personal will and ability, all things are possible; but in order to gain this power the vitki must develop the skills basic to all ritual work: concentration, visualization, breath and posture control, and the art of incantation. Many of these skills may be developed haphazardly over the course of practical work. The failures incurred by this method often discourage aspiring vitkar. The best course of action is one in which some time is devoted to exercises designed to develop the basic skills necessary to the successful performance of rúnagaldr. It has been noticed by several investigators that the runic power is often slow to develop in people (this may be due to the centuries of widespread neglect) but that when the force manifests itself in the vitki's life, it is all-pervasive in its potency, unshakable in its strength, and overpowering in the stimulation it produces. This may indeed be due to its innate or indigenous nature. A vitki of patience and perseverance will be well rewarded!
This book is not intended to provide the basics necessary to all forms of magic, but the following simple exercises can give some important clues to the nature of the developmental program that each vitki should design for himself or herself. Those who already have considerable experience in the magical arts may dispense with this stage and begin a program of practical experimentation if they desire. It must always be kept in mind that these basic skills should be constantly improved and practiced daily, because an increased intensity of will and concentration with more vivid visualizations will greatly expand the success of the magical operations performed by the runer.
1. Consult the runic commentaries and find a rune that is particularly appealing to you. Fashion a meditation card from a piece of white poster board about three inches by five inches in size. Paint the chosen stave on the card in bright red (enamel paint is good for this purpose). Sit in a comfortable position with the card in front of you at eye level. Begin an even breath rhythm, which should be maintained throughout the exercise. Spend some minutes concentrating on the form of the stave while silently chanting the name three times —pause—then again three times, continuing in this rhythm throughout. Keep all of these elements of concentration on shape, sound, breath, and posture under control for several minutes, then close your eyes and imagine the shape in your hugauga—your “mind's eye.” Continue practicing this until you can perform it smoothly for ten minutes.
2. Essentially, repeat the process of Exercise I, except sing the name (and basic galdr if you wish) out loud while maintaining a breath pattern of ten seconds inhalation—two seconds hold in—ten seconds exhalation (while singing the name or one line of the galdr)—and two seconds hold out. At this point begin experimenting with other simple postures, both sitting and standing. Always maintain the posture in a concentrated state, but do not strain. Again concentrate on the card for some minutes, and then close your eyes and imagine its form blazing with vivid power. Once you can maintain this complex of action in a concentrated form for ten minutes, you may progress further.
3. Perform this exercise in the I-rune stadha with hands overhead. Set up a ten-two-ten-two (or as similar as is comfortable) breathing rhythm while facing north. With your eyes open or closed visualize first the F-rune in blazing red while intoning its name out loud three times. Slowly turn with the sun in a circle, visualizing and vibrating the form and name of each of the runes in turn while maintain the stadha and breath rhythm. Once the aspiring vitki is able to perform this exercise in an almost instinctual fashion with few or no breaks in concentration, runework may be confidently undertaken.
Besides a daily program of exercises of this type the vitki should design a course of intellectual and physical development in accordance with his or her will and intentions. The serious study of Norse mythology and religion and the science of runology, as well as the Old Norse language, will greatly improve the vitki's understanding of the processes of runecraft. Because of the syncretic and “pantheistic” view of the multiverse contained in the runic system, a healthy, strong body will reflect itself in more powerful magical abilities. The true rune vitki is an awesome force on all levels of reality!
For anyone interested in a more in-depth initiation into the mysteries of the runes based on an extensive curriculum., see The Nine Doors of Midgard (The Rune-Gild, 2016, 5th edition). Taking runework to the next level is found there, and in the book Alu: An Advanced Guide to Operative Runology (Weiser, 2012).
At this, the first level of runework, we study and internalize the individual runes as unique and distinct signs which we can combine into formulas. In more advanced work the runes are used within linguistic formulas, often within the languages (Icelandic, Old English) that are suited to specific runic systems, the Younger Futhark and the Old English Futhorc. This is to be expected, just as a Kabbalist works with the Hebrew language at the advanced levels, the runer works with these languages. As outlined in Alu, the modern English language can be used (carefully) in conjunction with the Old English runes to effect direct communication with the world at the more advanced levels. But we begin with the Futhark—learning the ABCs of the world.
The foregoing sections have dealt with the “internal tools” of rune magic and their development, but the following pages are concerned with the “external tools” that symbolize internal forces. These are the traditional tools and techniques of rúnagaldr, which aid in the manipulation of the rune streams.
In the practice of runecraft the ceremonial vestments, while important, do not play a central role in the cultic symbolism. The magical attire of the vitki roughly corresponds to the everyday dress of an early medieval Northman, with special symbolic features. The main advantage of liturgical vestments is the magical effect of setting oneself apart from everyday life that the donning and wearing of these garments should have. An ideal set of ritual attire for the rune vitki includes a hooded cloak or frock of a deep blue or black color as the outermost piece. Bright red pants also should be worn; this was a special sign of the vitki in ancient times. Black or natural-color heelless leather shoes may be worn, but many rites, especially those conducted outdoors, should be performed barefoot. A pullover-type tunic of white, blue, or red should be worn under the cloak. This tunic should fit quite loosely and be girdled by a belt made of leather or deerskin. A sheath for the knife may be attached to the belt and a pouch may be hung from it to hold the various other magical instruments. The runes themselves may be represented in two places in the vitki's attire. A white headband may be fashioned, on which the runes are embroidered in bright red, and the wearing of a token on which the futhark row and other magical symbols are engraved is a powerful aid in runic ritual. The runic token should be made of bronze, gold, or silver. It should be designed, created, and consecrated in accordance with the vitki's level of skill and knowledge. An extremely basic design for practical purposes is shown in figure 21.1.
Figure 21.1. A runic bracteate.
Generally, male and female vitkar dress very much alike; however, the female usually goes bare-legged or wears a long red skirt. Ritual nudity also is practiced, according to the nature and aim of the rite being performed. In this, as in all matters of magic, the vitki should let intuition be the primary guide.
The magic wand is known by many names in the technical language of Nordic magic; however, gandr is the most generic and expresses the powerful nature of this talismanic object. The gandr may be made from any of a variety of woods. The vitki might wish to consult Appendix III for some suggestions in this regard. In all cases the gandr should be cut, crafted, and consecrated according to the ceremonial formulas given for the rune tines below. The diameter of the wand should be no smaller than that of the index finger and no larger than the ring made by closing the tips of the index finger and thumb. Its length may be as short as the length of the hand or as long as the distance from the fingertips to the elbow. The gandr is blunt or rounded on the hinder end while the forward end may be fairly pointed or moderately rounded. The vitki may carve all twenty-four runes of the Elder Futhark on the wand, arranged in the three rows of aettir—or, in accordance with knowledge, a more unique and perhaps more magically potent formula may be devised for this purpose. An example is shown in figure 21.2. Notice that the total number of runes is twenty-four, thus magically representing the entire futhark. The formula ek vitki is a potent magical statement that declares the power of the vitki and loads the object with his or her force. The numerical value of this part of the formula is 78 or 6 x 13 (see chapter 11 for the section on numerical symbolism). The eight A-runes invoke the power of Odin out of all eight corners of heaven.
Figure 21.2. A runic wand. The inscription reads: ek vitki rist rúnar aaaaaaaa (I the Magician carved the runes aaaaaaaa).
The vitki's knife is often used to carve runes, but it is also employed to cut and prepare wood for talismanic purposes, or in rites of defense and invocation of runic forces. The hilt of the knife should be fashioned from wood or bone, and the blade should be of the “sax” type as illustrated in figure 21.3. Its total length is approximately nine inches with a blade five inches long and a width of about one inch. The name of the vitki, transliterated into runes (see Appendix IV on page 295), may be etched into the hilt. Or a more complex formula may be devised to express the creative, shaping will of the runer. The illustration shows such a formula. It consists of three T-runes, which impart ordering successful force to the instrument, and a series of runes that ideographically express the nature of the knife. ( = the concentrated ego; = controlled ability and creativity; = the cosmic pattern it is intended to express; = an invocation to Odinic force.) The numerical total of these seven runes is 81, which is 9 x 9—the intensified creative force in the multiverse. (See section on numerical symbolism).
Figure 21.3. A rune knife of the sax type.
A special carver is often used to etch runes into all types of surfaces. The ristir should be extremely pointed and sharp. It is often the most practical tool for the carving of runes. It may again bear the runic form of the vitki's name or a magical formula expressing the purpose of the ristir. A model for this is shown in figure 21.4. The inscription is lathu futh: “I (which means both the vitki and the ristir) invoke, or load, the futh.” The final three-rune formula is the first three staves of the row, and represents the entire futhark. This formula may be called “the womb of the runes.” (In Old Norse the word fudh actually means vulva and vagina). The numerical analysis is 36, or 4 x 9—the intensified creative force in the multiverse. (See section on numerical symbolism.)
Figure 21.4. A rune carver (ristir).
The runes were always colored with either red pigments or blood. The magical significance of this is obvious. To the ancient Germanic peoples the verbal constructs “to make red” and “to endow with magical power” were synonymous. German Zauber (magic) and Old Norse taufr (magic, talisman) are both descended from this concept. In the technical terminology of ancient runecraft the Proto-Germanic word fahido and the Old Norse form fá meant literally “I color” and “to color,” respectively. But these terms came to mean “to fashion runes” in general, describing the entire complex process of carving, coloring, and consecrating the staves.
Pigments used by the old vitkar were red ocher, minium (red lead), and madder. Minium is a latecomer, but ocher was known from neolithic times. Madder is obtained from the root of the plant of the same name (rubia tincturia). The Old Norse form of madder is madhra, and the magical power of the plant is no doubt increased by the magico-affective association of this world with madhra, the Old Norse word for “man” (::). All of these pigments are available in some form at art supply stores. They should be ground with linseed oil, or a gum mixture, in a ritual manner just prior to the beginning of the runic rite. Linseed is, of course, derived from the seed of the flax plant, which is extremely important in runecraft. Its ancient name lina often appears in runic talismans for fertility, growth, and well-being. During the grinding process the futhark or the runes to be used in the rite should be intoned, infusing the dye with the potential energy of those runes. All of these pigments are symbolic substitutes for the innate magical power held by the blood, either human or that of a ritually sacrificed animal. If blood is used no “preloading” is necessary. However, since the blood runes, the sanguine mysteries, are part of the religious expression, many vitkar will not concern themselves with them. All of the rituals in this book certainly may be performed powerfully using these venerable dyes!
Figure 21.5. A runic coloring tool (reddener) bearing a powerful bind rune.
A special tool should be made for inlaying the pigments into the carved staves. This can be made from a piece of wood about as thin as a veneer, which is cut in the shape of an isosceles triangle and inscribed with suitable runes. Figure 21.5 shows a galdrastafr made up of four K-runes, three in the form and the connector in the alternate form . Ideographically, this is an intensification of the kenaz-force. The numerical symbolism is also quite potent: 4 x 6, or 24 (a magical intensification of kenaz in the context of the whole futhark).
Other Magical Tools
Several rites require further instruments, and while the minor ones will be introduced in the pertinent sections, these are a few that bear mention here.
The vitki should possess a drinking horn or cup from which mead is often drunk. The horn may be a natural one, properly prepared, or a horn-shape vessel of precious metal; a cup may be made of wood, earthenware, gold, or silver. In any case, the runes should be ritually inscribed on it in the talismanic manner. These runes are transcribed as ódhrærir and mean “the exciter of inspiration.” This is the name of the divine mead of inspiration and of the vessel in which it is contained (see the A- and G-runes). The numerical and ideographic symbolism of this formula are powerful. The rune count is 7, and its total is 87, 3 x 29 (see section on numerical symbolism).
A brazier, or fire-pot (ON glódhker), also may be needed in some rites. It can be made of metal or earthenware. This fire represents the quickening power of Muspellsheimr. In addition, two pieces of cloth—one black, one white, both preferably of linen—should be on hand. A leather thong, symbolic of the containing, binding force in the multiverse is commonly used.
The equipment of the rune vitki is characterized by its mobility. All major tools needed for the performance of an act of runework should be so well concealed that no one would even notice their presence.
Rune magic may be performed indoors or out, but for atmospheric reasons, as well as for promotion of practical direct contact with the full power of the rune streams, outdoors is preferred. Ideally, the vitki would perform these sacred rites in a holy grove of oak, ash, or yew trees situated high on a hill. However, any secluded place in a wooded area can suffice. The actual work space is conceived of as a sphere, and therefore a circular space should be cleared and ritually set apart in the manner outlined in the “opening ritual” on page 247. Here we are concerned with the symbols to be contained in this magical space. The symbology may be as complex or as simple as the vitki desires; there is no dogma in this matter. Generally, when the work is done within an enclosed space, the symbolism tends to be more complex, and we would expect to find an altar, which may be either circular or rectangular, in either the northern or eastern sector of the space, or even in the center.
Figure 21.6. A typical rune magic circle or ring.
At this point a note on Germanic magical orientation should be interjected. From the earliest times the orientation was either to the east (as linguistic evidence shows) or to the north (as archeological evidence demonstrates). The English word “evening” ultimately derives from a Proto-Germanic root aftan-, which meant “backward”; hence, it indicates the observer faced eastward at twilight. There exists a large body of lore that speaks for a northward orientation. The Christian missionaries had problems compelling recently “converted” Germanic pagans to pray eastward instead of their heathen custom of facing north. The Icelandic hof, or temples, were lined up on a north-south axis, and even in the oldest period the passageways of the grave mounds faced northward. It is probable that both these directions were considered powerful and that each was used depending on the type of ritual involved—eastward for matters concerning the earth and northward for matters concerning the “other worlds.” Most modern rune vitkar prefer north for the same reason those missionaries hated it.
The altar itself will contain all the objects necessary to the rite. It will also serve as the “workbench” on which the rune tines are carved. In a ritual performed outside, a rock or tree stump serve well, but a portable altar also may be constructed for such cases.
As for the circle that symbolically defines the sacred space, it may be as simple as a circle drawn on the ground with the wand, or it may be complex as a glyph drawn on the floor of a vé with chalk or another material. The magic circle should indicate the eight divisions of heaven, which are symbolic representations of the eight otherworlds of Norse cosmology, and the runes should be portrayed in the outer ring, as shown in figure 21.6 on page 243. Other figures or names may be added as the vitki sees fit.
The timing of runic rites also is very important, and while complex, it is not so rigid or complicated as that of traditions more influenced by zodiacal astrology. To fully explain these factors would require an independent study of no small magnitude and would unduly complicate the present work. The most important criteria considered by the rune vitki are (1) season, (2) moon phase, and (3) solar position (time of day). The most auspicious times are dawn, midday, evening, and midnight. For increase of power the waxing moon is desired, but for constriction of force its waning phase is used. The best general time for any undertaking is in the nights of the new moon or just after, or the full moon or just before. Again, intuition is the best and most powerful guide in these matters. It should be noted that time and space are considered aspects of one another and both are measured by the mjötvidhr (the measuring tree [Yggdrasill]).
Signing and Sending of Runes
The practice of making runic gestures or signs was well known in ancient times. The Norse godhar or priests would make the “sign of the hammer” (ON hamarsmark) or over goblets before drinking. The rite of signing persons and objects with holy signs was established well before the coming of Christianity, and in fact they adopted this practice from the Indo-European tribes because they could not eradicate it.
A rune may be traced or drawn in the air in front of the vitki with the palm of the right hand, the right index finger, the right thumb, or the rune wand. Some of the staves may be signed with both hands in a smooth and aesthetic gesture.
Visualization is an important aspect of these signingar. The vitki should actually send, or project, the image of the stave from a sphere of brightness in the center of the body, along a shaft of red light to the point where the rune is intended to appear. Once the beam has reached this distance, the vitki traces the form of the stave from the substance of light. The color of the light may be red or some other symbolic hue (e.g., the color ascribed to the rune in Appendix III).
A special rhythm of breath should be observed during this practice. Inhale as the arm is raised, concentrate on the intake of önd. On exhalation, send and sign the stave while singing the name and/or galdr of the rune, either mentally or out loud.
When the runes are invoked before the vitki, the force may either be reabsorbed into the personal sphere of the runer, infused into an object as an act of loading or “changing,” or it may be sent to do work elsewhere. This type of ritual work will be more fully treated in its own section below. It is being introduced here as a kind of exercise because it is good practice to use this procedure in daily work and because it is found in the ritual of talismanic loading. This is one of the most powerful techniques available to the vitki, but one that must be practiced and mastered with extremely strong concentration and visualization to be completely effective.
Rituals of Protection
A ritual should be devised by the vitki that serves to banish all forces detrimental to the work at hand and to prevent the return of those powers. These forces may not be “evil,” just disadvantageous to the operation. There are three good formulas for such a ritual. The hammer rite (Hamarssetning) is the strongest and provides maximal protection and isolation, the Hagalaz rite provides the most potent magical atmosphere and potential, and the Elhaz rite strikes a balance between these. The formula outlined below gives the hammer rite, but to perform the other two simply substitute the word hagalaz or elhaz (elk) and sign the corresponding rune in the appropriate places. A rite of this type may be practiced every day and should be used in conjunction with an opening ritual to begin all ceremonial work.
It is most ideal to have a permanently sacred site (ON vé) for inner work, one that is always sacrosanct and does not have to be “re-consecrated” every time you do ritual work there.
The Hammer Rite
This example is written in a northward orientation, and appropriate changes of course should be made in the order of galdrar in rites of an eastward orientation.
1. With the rune wand in the right hand, face the North Star.
2. Beginning with fehu in the north sign and send the runes of the futhark in a ring around you at the level of the solar plexus as far out as the circle on the ground or floor, always “with the sun” in a clockwise direction. The runes should form a complete band ending with othala next to fehu in the north.
3. Stand in the cross stadha and visualize an equilateral cross lying horizontally in the plane of the rune ring and your solar plexus, with that point as the center of the cross. The arms of this cross should end at the points where they intersect the rune band. Imagine a surrounding sphere of shimmering blue light with the red rune band as its equator. Then visualize the vertical axis coming through your length from the infinite space above and from the infinite space below.
Figure 21.7. Tracing pattern of the hammer sign.
4. Feel and see the force flowing into your center from all six directions as it builds a sphere of glowing red light. The color may be altered depending on the ritual intention (see section on color symbolism).
5. The vitki should touch the hinder part of the wand to the breast at the center of power and thrust it forward, projecting the force from that center to a point on the inside face of the outer sphere. Then the runer should sign the hammer from the mass of magical might. The sign should be traced as in figure 21.7. During this process intone:
Hamarr í Nordhri helga vé thetta ok hald vördh!1
(Hammer in the North hallow and hold this holy-stead!2)
Then, turning 90° to the right, send and sign another hammer sign vibrating.
Hamarr í Austri helga vé thetta ok hald vördh!
(Hammer in the East hallow and hold this holy-stead!)
Hamarr í Sudhri helga vé thetta ok hald vördh!
(Hammer in the South hallow and hold this holy-stead!)
And in the West:
Hamarr í Vestri helga ve thetta ok hald vördh!
(Hammer in the West hallow and hold this holy-stead!)
Returning to the north, direct your attention overhead, there send and sign the hamars-mark on the “ceiling” of the sphere, saying:
Hamarr yfir mér helga vé thetta ok hald vördh!
(Hammer over me hallow and hold this holy-stead!)
And then project the hammer sign below to the “floor” of the sphere (not the ground or room floor) and intone:
Hamarr undir mér helga vé thetta ok hald vördh!
(Hammer under me hallow and hold this holy-stead!)
6. Now, strike the cross stadha again and sing:
Hamarr helga vé thetta ok hald vördh!
(Hammer hallow and hold this holy-stead!)
Turning in the center of the vé, repeat this once for each of the other four directions and once for the vertical axis. The visual effect should be one of axes connecting all six shining red hammers to your personal center, all engulfed by a field of sparkling deep blue light and surrounded by a band of bright red runes.
7. Finally, center all the forces of the vé by folding your arms from the cross stadha in toward your center, with your fingertips touching at the solar plexus, and saying:
Um mik ok í mér Asgardhr ok Midhgardhr!
(Around me and in me Asgardhr and Midgardhr!)
This ritual may be repeated at the end of a working or exercise, and the entire sphere may be drawn into the personal center, or the walls of the globe may be split with the knife, allowing the collected energy to flow to its goal.
The basic form of the rite given here is intended to shield the consciousness of the vitki for magical or meditational work. Modifications in the rite, such as the ones already suggested, may be worked out so that this ritual form may be used as an active magical tool. The runes on the face of the sphere may be drawn from, or projected through to, the outside in order to create magical effects. It is up to the runer to discover the further powers of the hammer rite lying beyond these instructions.
Some people over the years have thought that this rite is based on a cabalistic model, but this, as well as the making of the sign of the hammer over horns of mead, etc., are actually old Germanic forms. A Viking Age runic inscription formula, repeated on several Danish stones, reads: “Thor sanctify these runes (with your hammer).” The power of Thor's hammer, projected in the four quarters and above and below, hallows a place, allowing the space created to be filled with holy power.
The Opening Ritual
In important ritual work the vitki may wish to recite an invocatory galdr into which the hammer rite may be incorporated. Such a galdr would serve to invoke divine forces or simply act as a general invocation to the runic powers, or both. The knowledgeable vitki will compose his or her own rite and galdr, for this would be a great deed of rune-craft! Note how the hammer rite is interwoven into this example:
1. Standing in the middle of the vé, face north or east, in the stadha, and intone:
Fare now forth
from heavenly homes all eight
Sleipnir be saddled,
hither swiftly to ride:
Galdrsfadhir,4 might to give and gain.
Holy rune-might flow
from the hoves of Hangatýr's5 steed;
in streams of steadfast strength --
through staves of stalwart standing!
2. Go to the northern (or eastern) rim of the vé and with the wand trace the circle in the direction of the sun, from left to right. During this process sing:
The rune-might is drawn
'round the holy-stead,
unwanted wights wend away!
3. When the circle is complete return to the center and facing the original direction, perform the rune-ring portion of the hammer rite. When this is complete say:
The worrisome wights
now wend their way
eastward toward etin-home;
hallowed be the hall of Hroptatýr,6
with the help of Hrungnir's slayer!7
4. Now perform the rest of the hammer rite.
5. After which, if the ritual calls for a brazier, the fire should be enkindled. If the vitki knows it, and the ritual needs it, this fire may be enkindled by the need-fire friction method; but normally, the runer will light the fire-pot with a previously prepared flame. Also necessary at this juncture are containers of salt and brewer's yeast; a pinch of each should be added to the flame at the point indicated in the galdr. Lighting the brazier, sing:
Endless light of life
give thy living gift
fill the night of need;
to the hearth of this hall
bring thy boon so bright
to quicken this salt
and yeast all so cold
together live long and well
in the hearts of Hár's8 sib.
6. Once the fire-pot is enkindled, the vitki also may add leaves, thin strips of wood from trees, or herbs that correspond to the intention of the rite to be performed (see Appendix III). The body of the magical ritual may now begin in a “loaded” atmosphere.
The Closing Ritual
When a rite has been begun with an opening formula, a closing rite is in order.
1. Face north or east in the stadha and intone:
Now is done the holy work
of word and deed
helpful to godly children
hurtful to etin-churls
hail to (him/her/them) who speaks(s) them
hail to (him/her/them) who grasp(s) them
needful to (him/her/them) who know(s) them
hail to (him/her/them) who heed(s) them.9
2. At this point the hammer rite (without the rune ring) may be performed, although this would be optional.
3. If it is not totally safe to allow the brazier to burn itself out, extinguish it by placing a cover over it with the words:
Fire that glows without
forever be kindled within
by the might of Odin-Vili-Vé.
4. If the energy built up by the entire operation is to be internalized, then draw the collected energies into your personal center by standing in the cross position, and while deeply inhaling, draw your arms in so that your fingertips touch your solar plexus. Turn in all four directions and repeat this action, each time visualizing the sphere being drawn into your center. If the energy of the rite has been sent abroad, then you may simply split the sphere with your hand or knife and step out of the circle.
The practice of both ceremonially and informally meditating on the runes is a source of vast wisdom—and a direct source of magical power. The vitki should strive to develop a personal link with each rune by communicating with the mystery on a deep level. Once this link has been made—with each individual rune and with the runic cosmology as a whole—a floodgate of runic force is opened, creating a stream of wisdom that always stands open to the vitki. Afterward this stream may be tapped even on an informal basis, in any spare moment that allows for reflection. Often these odd moments provide the vitki with some of the most powerful insights into the runic mysteries.
This meditation is an active, seeking endeavor. One of the most important techniques needed for success is the control of thought —that is, the submersion of thoughts detrimental to the purpose of the meditation and a guiding of the thoughts along the willed rune path. Once the hugr (consciousness) has been stilled and thought patterns have been concentrated into a single center—the rune—then the rune wisdom will begin to well up in the consciousness of the vitki. The focal point of runic meditation is threefold: form (which may include color), sound (galdr), and root idea (contained in name and key words). The vitki should strive to concentrate, in a relaxed manner, on any one or all elements contained in this threefold complex, quietly leading detrimental thoughts out of the hugr and leaving only the runic symbols of form, sound, and name (root idea)—until finally the rune begins to speak directly to the consciousness of the vitki.
Ceremonial runic meditation may be as elaborate or as simple as the vitki desires or is able to perform. Generally, it seems that the wisest path is that which works from simplicity toward complexity. Preparations for meditation include the procurement of a quiet location, mastery of one of the protection-invocation rites, and the creation of a set of meditational cards, as described in the previous section. Later, mastery of the stadha of the chosen rune may be necessary. In the first stages of the meditational program the vitki may want to concentrate on one element of the threefold complex only, and include the others according to a self-directed program. A vitki should plan a progressive scheme that is suited to his or her own needs and abilities, always building a richer complex of elements in the inner center of concentration, while including a wider variety of magical techniques in the outer procedure.
The following is a composite outline of various methods of runic meditation from which the vitki may draw in the formation of a meditational program. All procedures may be physically performed, or if more convenient or effective, they may be performed totally within the hugauga, or mind's eye.
1. Perform one of the protective-invocatory rites while strongly visualizing the rune ring.
2. Assume a comfortable position, either sitting or standing, or in the stadha of the proper rune. You may face north, east, or in the angle indicated by the rune's position in the rune ring.
3. A runic meditation card should be set in such a position—attached to the wall or placed on a simple stand—that it is at eye level during this phase of the procedure.
4. With your eye fixed firmly on the runic form represented on the card, softly sing the rune galdr (this may be done inwardly). At the same time, if you wish, you may introduce formulaic ideas, such as the rune name, on a secondary level of consciousness. A name is of course included in the galdr; however, here we are considering the esoteric meaning embodied in the name, which may be included in the “center of concentration.” In this phrase the vitki should strive toward a strong concentration on the elements of the runic complex that are intended.
5. The vitki should now slowly close his or her eyes, continuing with the galdr and contemplation of an esoteric principle (if included). Visualize the form of the rune as it appears on the card and in the mind's eye, and furthermore, attempt to realize the oneness of the form-sound-idea complex. In the beginning you may have to open your eyes to reestablish the stave form, but eventually you may eliminate the fourth phase and proceed directly to a complex inward contemplation once you are confident of your abilities.
6. Maintain this state of inner concentration on the runic complex for at least several seconds, preferably working toward a span of five minutes.
7. After this period of inward concentration the vitki should lapse into inner silence. But remember this is a totally attentive silence! During this void of slumbering thoughts the word of the rune will be intoned with a resounding peal. This is a “word” that cannot be expressed by any language, but it is the totality of the runic mystery expressed in a single moment. This is a holy experience in which the rune and the hugr of the vitki are momentarily unified—or this unity is perceived.
8. The vitki may continue the meditation as long as a link with the runic force is felt. In this meditative state the vitki may be led along a myriad of rune paths, in which secrets concerning the rune itself are revealed or the relationships between certain runes are made clear —the possibilities are infinite.
9. Once the linkage dissipates, or the vitki desires to terminate the meditation, simply repeat a formula such as “Now the work is wrought” and open your eyes. Then ritually break the rune ring according to the hammer rite.
After you feel yourself really becoming a part of the rune world, more informal meditational operations may be undertaken. These will reveal a vast amount of both usable and fascinating wisdom. It has been found that the most useful tools in this endeavor are paper, pen, compass, protractor, and perhaps even a calculator. The procedure is quite simple: Sit at your writing desk or table, surrounded with various runic glyphs and cosmological configurations. Still your mind, turning it toward the rune world. Allow your hugr to wander until it lights on a seed concept, then relentlessly follow it, drawing and jotting down your “revelations” as they come to you. These notations can then serve as the basis for further work. It is probably best not to schedule these informal sessions but rather to sit down and delve into the mysteries when the “spirit moves you.” Usually, after a short period of time the wisdom of the runes will begin to well up in the hugr of the vitki at odd moments. Sometimes the eruption of these forces is so powerful as to cause psychokinetic phenomena in the physical proximity of the vitki!
The regular practice of runic meditation is one of the mainstays in the overall rigging of rune wisdom and one that gives ample rewards for efforts well spent. It may be said that indeed the moments of inspiration gained from these practices are not akin to the discovery of a golden tomb in an exotic desert land but rather to the recovery of a long-lost family heirloom out of the attic (look in the basement too!). What has been lost can be regained if only the will is strong!
In Old Norse there are three principal words for “talisman,” “amulet,” or “talismanic magic.” They are (1) teinn, which indicates a piece of wood or twig fashioned into a talismanic object (the word “tine” reflects this); (2) hlutr, which may be any object used for talismanic or divinatory purposes (English “lot”); and (3) taufr, which means both talisman and magic in general; but in the original sense talismanic magic is particular. All three terms are quite descriptive of various aspects of talismanic runecraft.
The following section on taufr will deal with many features of rune magic, such as bind runes and the symbology of number, color, and ideograph, which are of vital importance in all areas of rúnagaldr but which are introduced here because of the fundamental role they play in the art of taufr.
A tine is a living being that has an ørlög to live out, one that has been bestowed upon it by the vitki. The runer gives the “object” life and then magically provides it with ørlög through the nature of the runic power with which the vitki loads it. The “living nature” of the tine may be so strongly enforced that it will be found to have a “personality.” In order to facilitate this high state of autonomous (but vitki-willed) force, the runer may wish to give the tine a name during the loading ritual. This is the mystery behind the many runic talismans (especially weapons) that have been given names.
The technical theories behind tine magic are in perfect accord with the laws of action within the runic cosmology in general. The rune tine acts as a key to unlock the power of particular rune streams. In the loading processes these streams (identical with hamingja) are willfully blended in the causal worlds and infused into the object, which has been prepared by the vitki with signs and staves receptive to those forces. There they are intensified or modified and again released, bearing a specific character imparted by the ørlög giving galdrar and formálar of the vitki and the innate power of the symbols depicted on the tine. The talismanic form becomes linked to the essence of the particular rune(s) through a great concentration and energizing of forces directed by the vitki into the tine, using the shape, sound, and color of the runes.
Once the tine has been properly loaded, this power is then “unloaded” according to the form that the vitki impressed upon it. The object is the center of a vortex of force, receiving energy, formulating it in accordance with its ørlög, and then re-expressing it in the causal realms, leading to the desired result. This power also may be retained within the personal sphere. The efficiency of this process is dependent on the level of strength in the vitki's hamingja and the quality of concentration and visualization the vitki may bring to bear in the loading operation.
Another important aspect of tine magic is that of magical linkage to the “object” of the taufr, that is, the person or thing to be affected by the magical force. This may be brought about by attaching a runic formula to the object that represents the person (such as the name transliterated into runes) or by the physical proximity of the tine to the person to be affected. Other techniques of sympathetic magic may also be employed.
There are several distinct types of runic talismans. Usually, they are fashioned from pieces of wood, bone, stone, or metal that readily take their forms. However, paper or parchment also may be used by those less traditionally inclined. The objects on which the runes and signs are carved may be purely magical in function or they may also serve some utilitarian function. The former group is what is usually considered a tine. The latter group may include such objects as belt buckles, pens, automobiles, screwdrivers, guns, and so on, that are thus endowed with hamingja. This is valuable for imparting success or protection in the areas where the object is used. This tradition is just as useful and powerful today as it was in ancient Europe, when warriors inscribed their weapons and shields with runes for protection and victory. The imagination of the modern runer should prove to be a fruitful guide in this practice. Another class of talisman is stationary. Any fixed object may be turned into a runic talisman. Trees, large rocks, and houses are good examples. Also, a stationary taufr may be a card or stave placed in the vitki's room, or a tine placed near the person to be affected by the magical force. These are used to magically influence a particular place or persons who are regularly in that place. The internally applied talisman is also known and will be discussed below.
The techniques of tine magic may be used in operations of every type. The procedures outlined in these sections should be followed, in one form or another, when fashioning tools to be used in the runic art.
Tines may be produced that express a single runic force, but one of the most potent techniques of blending several runic forces together for a very specific purpose is that of the bind rune (ON bandrún). A bind rune is the combination of individual runic powers into one mighty field of action. This method has the distinct advantage for the modern vitki of using only the ideographic essence of the rune; therefore the contemporary runer does not have to worry about whether his or her inscription is correct or whether it will be effective if written in modern English. In order to properly build and load such a form, the vitki must have a deep understanding of separate runes and how they fit together to form a single powerful expression of force with a single harmonious will. The principles of spiritual and physical aesthetics are important here. This combining aspect is common to all runecraft, but with the bind runes it finds its most obvious expression.
Bind runes have been used by runers from the very beginning. There are two main types of these bandrúnar: (1) those used to connect two or more runes together when inscribing words, and (2) those of an apparently purely ideographic type (although this last type may contain a word concealed in its form as a kind of simultaneous anagram). A great amount of “artistic license” is available to the vitki in the construction of bind runes. The alternate forms of the various staves should help in the formation of an aesthetically pleasing shape. When formulating bind runes, the runer should always keep the elements of numerological symbolism and ideological harmony and cooperation in mind. But most importantly the bind rune should be pleasing to the eye.
When used in writing, bind runes may connect two runes or a group of them. This is done to form a magical link between these two runes, to represent two or more words in a coded form, or to reduce the overall count of runes in the inscription. A bind rune is always counted as one rune in the rune count (see section on numerical symbolism). The common grammatical ending -az (-aR) is often written (note the use of an alternate form of the Z-rune to obtain the magico-aesthetic effect). Magically, this links the forces of the A - and Z-runes into a special expression—which is quite powerful! One of the oldest bind runes is which represents plus .
This stands for the magical formula gibu auja (I give good luck) and is often carved on talismanic or ritual weapons. Any runes having adjacent vertical staves are prime candidates for binding, as are words (especially pronouns and verb forms) that are common, for example, (em: I am); (ek: I).
Figure 21.8. Bind rune found on the brooch of Soest, c. 600—650 C.E.
Figure 21.9. Ideographic “three-headed thurs.”
The purely ideographic bind runes are the most useful in tine magic, and their multiplicity of levels makes them very effective in refined operations of magic. One of the oldest examples of this is found on the brooch of Soest, circa 600—650 C.E. (see figure 21.8). This is formed from the runes , and twice. The numerical total of these runes is 66, or 6 x 11, with a rune count of 6 (see section on numerical symbolism). This galdrastafr is a love talisman carved on a brooch and then given to a woman. The power of the taufr draws upon Odinic force , with justice and a call for success , out of need (note also the sexual symbolism here), for marriage (erotic union) , according to ancestral principles and territory The rune count and multiple of 6 emphasizes the erotic nature of the talisman. The runes also may contain an anagram of the old German man's name Attano plus the sign (marriage). The analysis of old inscriptions gives many clues to modern practice.
Another ideographic example would be the “Three-headed thurs” (figure 21.9). Essentially a threefold intensification of the TH-rune, this is used in curses. Further examples of bind runes will be given in the magical formulas.
We will also return to the topic of bind runes in a special section below in which they form their own kind of magic.
Numerical criteria play an important role in the loading and working of rune tines, and they are often critical in other types of rune magic. In the ancient inscriptions we sometimes find that the vitki has in some way sacrificed linguistic clarity for numerical (or ideographic) potency. This is done by leaving out staves (especially vowels), or by adding or doubling them. We have already discussed the lore of esoteric numerology in the runic tradition in chapter 11. In this section the focus is on the operative aspects of numeric symbolism—that is, how things can be done with numeric symbols.
As noted at the beginning of this book, number is one of the three keys to each rune. The commentary given under each rune is also pertinent to the symbolism of its number. Indeed much of the interpretation is drawn from numerical criteria. Strong examples of this would be the H-rune (9)—the nine worlds of Yggdrasill; and the J-rune (12)—the twelve months of the solar year. It is necessary only to give the broad outlines of runic numerology here; the true vitki will find the right roads to further power.
The numerical values of inscriptions, tines, and magical formulas place the power of the runes in various “spheres of working” and also draw on the power inherent in that number for their working. Often it is best to aim for a harmonious and broad-based sphere of working to lend maximal overall power to the ideographic and linguistic form of the formula. These formulas also may modify or adjust the overall power of the whole. Since every formula and tine works on various levels simultaneously, a general rule of thumb would be the more levels of meaning you can pack into the least amount of space, and the more cryptic you can make it, the more effective the magic will be. This is important in the shaping as well as the interpretation of talismans.
Figure 21.10. Runic number formula “luwatuwa.”
Runic number formulas are analyzed in two ways: (1) the rune count, that is, the number of staves in the formula; and (2) the total of the numerical values of each rune in the formula (as in gematria). These numbers are then broken down into their multiples in order to further analyze their powers. A simple example of this process is shown in figure 21.10: Rune count 8 (multiple: 2 x 4); runic total: 66; (multiple: 6 x 11). This formula is found on ancient talismans, and forms an incantation of great ideographic, phonetic, and numerological power.
Either or both of these systems may be used. The meaning of these numbers is twofold. They indicate the sphere in which the formula is to work and the power by which it works.
There are several “numbers of power” in both of these systems on which the beginning vitki could concentrate. For the rune count, the numbers 1 through 24 are all powerful, and imbue the formula with the force of the rune of that number. Also, the use of any twenty-four runes in an inscription provides a broad base of power and invokes the force of the whole rune row into the formula. To a twenty-four-fold rune count, the number eight and its multiples (and indeed twenty-four and its multiples) may be added to maintain the whole harmony of power while intensifying its force. The multiple of the rune count also modifies the runic potency in subtle and ingenious ways. These are common patterns in ancient inscriptions.
On the second level, that of the numerical total of the runes, there are many possibilities and numbers of power, which direct the runic force in specific directions and give them special magical characteristics. Of course, the sums 1 through 24 indicate the sphere where that particular rune is at work. Prime numbers are especially powerful and express a tremendous amount of will. Whatever the runic total might be, it is through its multiple factors that the root force of the number is revealed. Multiples of three, and especially of nine, are powerful in operations dealing with magical forces working on many levels at once, including the earthly realm. Multiples of ten are especially forceful when the intent is to cause a change in the manifest world of Midgardhr. Twelve and its multiples are also potent in this regard but have a more prolonged and enduring effect. The number thirteen and its multiples are the most universal numbers of power. A vast number of runic inscriptions manifest this numerological pattern. The number is indicative of universal potency and contains the mystery of eihwaz as the World-Tree (9) and the three realms (3) in the ontological oneness of Ginnungagap (1). The number by which the “master number” is multiplied further modifies and directs the overall force of the formula according to its runic nature.
All of these principles may be used when constructing rune tines and rituals; however, they need not dominate the form of the operation. Let intuition and natural inclination be your guide. Vitkar may totally dispense with numerical considerations, and their results will in no way diminish. The correct use of runic numerology is an art in itself and one that needs to be supplemented with a large dose of Nordic lore to be completely effective. The study and analysis of inscriptions fashioned by our forebears should be the guiding light in our efforts. It also should be pointed out that the old Germanic attitude toward the concept of number was quite different from that held by their neighbors to the south. To the Pythagorean and Gnostic mystics, number came to be the (rule) of all things, but to the vitkar, number was only one among three equal expressions of the same holy mystery embodied by a rune. While the Gnostics and Pythagoreans tended to look at number as a way of measuring and distinguishing one thing from another, the vitkar saw them as points of connection and interrelation in a cosmos forever in a state of ebb and flow.
The ancient skalds, or poets, counted the number of syllables they used in their lines of poetry in order to make the language more harmonious with the language of the gods. They did this in order to be able to communicate their wishes and messages to the causal realm of the gods in a more efficient and beautiful way. Number and its symbolism is used in a similarly meta-linguistic fashion to convey magical communications more powerfully.
The symbology of color in the runic system is somewhat different from that of the Judeo-Christian culture, although the ancient Germanic traditions (among many others) have influenced the Christian color symbology to a certain extent. The source of this color system is to be found in the Eddas and in the saga literature. In the practice of runecraft this color lore is valuable as material in formulating powerful visualizations and ritual intensification as well as in the construction of more complex talismans. (See table 21.1.)
Table 21.1. Color symbology.
Appendix III provides speculative color correspondences for each rune, but the best guide is the intuition of the independent vitki. In this manner, as in most others, the perspective of the consciousness alters the perception of the concept, and it is the perception that provides the best key for unlocking the concept.
Many runestones and rune tines also bear pictographic representations of holy concepts that aid in the formulation and direction of magical power. These are of two kinds: (1) pictographs, graphic representations of naturally occurring objects (see table 21.2 for examples); and (2) ideographs, the holy signs or galdrastafir of rune magic (see table 21.3 for examples). These signs and symbols work in conjunction with the runic forces, or they are embodiments of the force expressed by the rest of the formula. They are valuable as talismanic symbols and also as objects of meditation and material for magical visualization.
Table 21.2. Pictographs.
Table 21.3. Ideographs.
This short analysis should give the aspiring vitki a good basis for practical experiment, while the more curious vitkar will search out books on Norse symbolism and rock carvings for even more of these enchanting signs.
Before attempting to construct a runic talisman the vitki should be well versed in the intellectual content of the rune lore and suitably advanced in the psychic faculties necessary to the successful completion of a talismanic operation. Rune tines should be constructed in accordance with the theories and ideology expressed by the runic system to be of maximal effect.
If the tine is to be constructed of wood, it should be fashioned from a kind of wood that is sympathetic to the aim of the talisman. For this the vitki may consult Appendix III, or better yet, let informed intuition be your guide. The possibilities of using wood are limitless. Metal disks, plates, or rings of copper, bronze, silver, or gold also make excellent runic talismans. Other materials, such as a small and appropriately shaped stone or piece of bone, also are favored. Larger stones are also good for stationary talismans, and in such cases the vitki will find it useful to have a hammer and chisel dedicated to the runic arts with which to construct these runestones. Earthenware is also receptive to rune loading; runes may be etched into the finished product or they may be cut into the soft unfired object, colored properly, and then fired—all in a ritualistic process with powerful potential! Runic talismans also can be formed from parchment colored with pens, inks, and paints dedicated to ritual practice. These parchment talismans may then be carried (in lockets, for example), or they may serve as stationary symbols. The imagination of the vitki is the only limit to the possibilities.
There are certain shapes that are best suited to receive runic forms. The most common are the rectangular solid, the thin wooden stave (1/16 to 1/8 inch thick), the thin disk or rectangular plate, a segment of natural tree branch, or a cylindrical shape of various lengths. Pieces of jewelry of all types are prime candidates for talismanic use. A unique shape that is fairly common for talismans is a thin rhomboid. This is usually cut from wood or bone. Figure 21.11 shows a typical example of this type. By using this design the vitki has four smooth surfaces available for longer inscriptions. This is also an extremely convenient and comfortable shape for tines designed to be carried on the person.
Figure 21.11. A typical talismanic (rhomboid) form.
Necessity will guide the vitki in the construction of utilitarian talismans.
The main requirement in the external formation of these holy objects is that they contain a symbol or symbols describing the purpose and aims of the talisman and a “signature” representing the person, persons, or thing to be affected or altered by the force of the first symbol. This signature may indeed be the name of the person or it may be some other sympathetic link; even physical proximity may serve to form this linkage. Space on the object should be aesthetically allocated and divided according to runestaves, holy signs, and the signature. Any combination of these elements is of course acceptable. Figure 21.12 is an example of a tine for increasing inspiration, magical power, and general success for a person named Erik Thurman.
The vitki should experiment with various surfaces and tools to determine what the best cutting techniques are for each. Time spent in the practice of carving runes will be well invested, because the more skilled the runer becomes in these basic mechanical skills, the more energy and concentration he or she can divert to the work at hand. One general technique that works well for all types of materials is the precutting of rune bands; that is, cutting two grooves to act as upper and lower limits for the staves.
Figure 21.12. Bind rune talisman with signature. A) Obverse. A bind rune formed from (twice), , and , providing success and energy in the realms of inspiration and magic in the natural order of things. B) Reverse. Note that certain runes are bound so that the rune count totals 7, thus linking the name with the power of magical inspiration.
Cutting Wood for Rune Tines
Once a design has been decided on, the vitki should explore the neighborhood for the right tree from which to cut the tine. After this scouting process is complete, go to the tree in a ritualized attitude, armed with the rune knife, at a time that seems auspicious for the aim of the operation. Generally, the most favorable times are considered to be dawn, noon, and twilight. Find a branch or twig that bends toward a quarter or eighth (of the heavens), because that is sympathetic to the purpose of the tine. The choice of a root at the time of midnight is effective for negative rituals and curses.
The cutting of the tine should be carried out in a ceremonial manner. First, standing to the north or east of the trunk, facing outward, perform the Hamarssetning or other suitable rite, envisioning the whole tree encompassed within the holy-stead. Then position yourself before the branch, twig, or root that you intend to cut. You may have to climb the tree to do this, of course. Turn your attention to the might and the wight of the tree with the words:
Hail to thee, might of (tree name)!
I bid thee give this branch!
Into it send thy speed,
to it bind the might of the bright runes____
(names of the runes to be used on tine)!
Now proceed to cut the portion of the branch desired, while humming or singing the names and/or galdrar of the proper runes during the whole procedure.
Once the future talisman has been removed, the vitki should give thanks to the wight of the tree for its gracious gift.
Wight of (tree name), take my thanks
henceforth be thy might in this branch!
Deeply bound to the bright (appropriate rune names)
working my will with speed.
The branch may then be trimmed and prepared for receiving the stave forms. The tine may be ritually loaded in that place at once, or it may be saved until later and loaded in the runer's usual vé.
This ritual process may be adapted easily for the selection and preparation of other materials to be fashioned into holy objects by the runic art.
The following ritual description provides an example of the complete loading process from which the vitki will be able to devise similar operations for all types of runic talismans. The techniques outlined here are valuable in all kinds of runework.
This taufr is built on the runic formula LAUKAZ, which appears very often on ancient bracteate talismans. Literally, the word means “leek” (allium porrum), which is a symbol of growth and well-being. This is also an alternate name for the L-rune. The Proto-Indo European root word from which the Germanic laukaz is derived is *leug-(to bend, turn, wind), a powerful concept and one common to words having to do with magic. This formula promotes healthy growth in the field of things hidden and secret (the root word is also the ancestor of our word “lock”).
The numerical analysis of this formula reveals one of its many power sources. Figure 21.13 shows the rune count as 6 (multiple: 2 x 3). The rune total is 52 (multiple: 4 x 13). The number 6 indicates its working in the sphere of will-controlled magical arts (a doubling of the dynamic action of 3). The formula works from a magical (4: ) intensification of the vertical force of the numen (13: ) throughout the year of 52 weeks. The ideographic analysis is equally revealing:
2. transformational numinous force
3. unconscious wisdom, health
4. conscious knowledge, ability
5. transformational numinous force
6. protection/”higher” life
The complementary conceptual relationships between the first and last runes, and the third and fourth runes, loaded with the magical “spirit” of the second and fifth runes (which are adjacent to all the others) show the ideological potency and scope of this formula.
Figure 21.13. The laukaz formula.
For the performance of this rite, the vitki will need a suitable setting for the vé with an altar of some type, the gandr, the knife or carver, suitably prepared blood or red pigment (and equipment for preparing this onsite), the coloring tool, a black cloth (preferably of linen) large enough to enclose the tine, a leather thong or organic twine long enough to encircle the object nine times, and whatever ritual attire the vitki deems necessary. For optional phases of the rite the vitki also will need a brazier (and kindling) and a cup of water or mead. The talismanic object itself should be fashioned from a piece of willow wood (or its complement, alder wood) having two flat surfaces of suitable size to take the inscriptions. This object should be fully dressed and prepared in its final form and shape except for the magical staves and signs.
Go to the site of the vé in silence, preferably at the hour of dawn. Arrange the implements in an orderly fashion on the altar and let the ritual begin.
1. Opening. Facing north, perform the opening rite including the ritual kindling of the brazier if necessary and Hamarssetning or other suitable opening formula. This invokes the rune might and calls upon the gods and goddesses as witnesses, while banishing detrimental forces.
2. Preparation of dye (optional). If the blood or pigment has not already been prepared, the vitki may grind it on location. If this is done, sit facing the altar, and grind the pigments with the galdr:
laukaz laukaz laukaz
[followed by the individual galdrar of all six runes in turn]
Blood of Kvasir10
rune-might blooms in the blend!
3. Name carving. This is to provide the magical link between the power of the formula and the person to benefit from it. Turn the tine so that what is to be on the reverse side is facing up. Using the knife or carver, etch the runes of the person's transliterated name (see Appendix IV on page 295) into the surface, using any formulaic devices that might help integrate the name (and person) with the power of the runic formula. Color the name with the pigments and recite a galdr such as:
Together the bright runes
are bound and blended
with the might of (name)!
This does not require a level of intense loading as high as that for the taufr formula. (This step is optional if the tine is to be worn on the person at all times.)
4. Preliminary galdr. Standing before the altar, gandr in hand, invoke the forces of : : by thrice intoning the names of each in turn over the tine, and at the same time signing the stave shape over the object with each repetition of the name. This serves to make the material receptive to the streams of these runes.
5. Carving. Sit before the altar in a manner that has been taught to the vitki by personal experimentation. Carve each of the stave forms while singing the simple sound formula of the rune being etched. For continuants (sounds that can be produced as long as the breath lasts) the pure sound is best. In this inscription they are l, a, u, and z. The k sound must be coupled with a vowel and repeatedly intoned (ka-kaka . . .). During this process feel, see, and concentrate on the shining rune might as it willfully flows from the heavens, earth, and subterranean realms via your center, through your arm and carving tool, into the wood in the shape of the stave. The opening ritual engaged these three realms for this purpose. The material on stadhagaldr and rune streams is also helpful in mastering this practice. Visualize the shining “substance” in white, red, or electric blue as it is inlaid into the grooves cut by the rune carver or knife. When each has been carefully carved in this manner, the vitki may wish to cut a straight line across the bottom of the staves, connecting their shapes to bind them together in a single form and field of force (in the case of this inscription the K-rune hovers, unconnected).
6. Coloring. Take up the container of paint or blood, and using the knife point or coloring tool, inlay the staves (and connecting bar) with the vivifying substance. This should be done with care and concentration. Throughout this process repeatedly sing the complete runic formula, lllllaaauuukaaazzz . . . This imparts basic life force to the tine. At this point the vitki may wish to pause and concentrate on the power of the runes being loaded into the form—feeling their presence, as they vibrate with the substance of the wood, in the consciousness of the vitki. Once this is completed, the runer may lightly rub a small amount of linseed oil over the surface of the tine. This serves both an aesthetic and a magical purpose.
7. Enclosure. This is the “dwelling in darkness” before birth and emphasizes the cyclical nature of the runic mysteries. The tine gathers and intensifies its strength during this separation from light. Take up the tine and wrap it in the black cloth, then bind it nine times around with the thong. During this process intone the following galdr, or one of your own composition containing similar concepts.
Into the den
of darkness deep
wend thy way
nights all nine
wile away thy spell.
Sleep, gain and grow
in weal and wealth.
Lay the tine down on the middle point of the vé and make nine turns (circumambulations) with the sun, while singing the complete word formula: llllaaauuukaaazzz. . . Return the object to the altar.
8. Birth of the living taufr. Unbind the thong and open the cloth while intoning the verse:
Hail thee day!
Hail day's sons
thou art born
bearing my will
wend thy way
toward day's light
with life's law.
Now the vitki should bring his or her mouth close to the tine, and with maximal force of breath intone the holy formula fffffffaaaaaa . . ., while feeling and visualizing a great outrush of hamingja into the creature. This also infuses the tine with intensified önd. In order to awaken the now indwelling wight, take up the gandr and gently knock thrice upon the form.
9. Naming (optional). If the vitki wishes to intensify the animate aspect of the tine, it should be ritually endowed with a name. This name should reflect the purpose of the talisman, and it is usually feminine in form. A good name for this tine might be Groedhing (a) (growth, or the growing one). Pass the tine three times over the fire-pot, intoning a verse indicative of the life-giving force, such as:
Now sparks of fire
with speed spew forth;
lend thy quickness and life.
Then lay the tine on the altar. Dip your fingers into the cup and carefully sprinkle the tine with the water or mead, with the formula:
I sprinkle thee with water
and give thee the name (name).11
10. Formáli. Now the tine wight must be permanently encoded with its special purpose—its “doom” or ørlög. It is newborn but must be provided with “past action,” that it may more mightily fulfill its function. This is done by means of a formáli, or formal speech of declaration. Stand in the ::stadha before the tine lying on the altar and proclaim a formula that outlines all the requirements, restrictions, and purposes of the talismanic being. For this tine, the following is appropriate:
Thou art wight of my will,
and 'tis thy doom to do as here is deemed:
Thou shalt shield my way, ·
wherever I may wend,
and with Ása12-might and main,
shower upon me
thy shining law of life
with a love of lust and shaping wisdom,
that I may grow and gain—whole and hale keep me—
as thou art young the whole year through.
In the name of Odin-Vili-Vé
and by the might of Urdhr-Verdhandi-Skuld so
shall it be.
11. Holding. To bind the might of the rune load to the tine, trace three rings around the wight with the gandr while singing:
the holy runes;
whole may they
work my will.
Visualize a containing semipermeable sphere of shining force around the tine that allows the desired power to enter and be transformed, intensified, and reprojected but holds the original loading and prevents discharge by contrary forces.
12. Closing. After placing the tine in its intended abode, the vitki may sing a short closing verse:
Now the work
has been wrought
with the might
of mighty runes
so shall it be.
Or perform the closing ritual outlined above.
Now the living hlutr is to be placed where it is to live its life and perform its function. If the tine is to be worn on the person, it should be next to the skin suspended by a cord, thong, or chain made of sympathetic material.
The more advanced runers will need no further clues to the successful practice of tine magic, but for those aspiring and talented vitkar who might need more clues, the following ritual and inscription formulas should be of some help. The first three introduce ancient and in some cases rather unique ritual methods that will be of special interest to all vitkar as yet unversed in the hoary and magical literatures of the sagas and Eddas. In the latter section, five talismanic formulas are provided for various magical operations. Some of these are drawn from ancient rune lore, while others are formulas created in the twentieth century. Here again it must be stressed that the most effective rituals will be those designed by talented vitkar based on their own personal relationship to the rune world.
The three special ritual formulas or patterns introduced in the following sections concern three of the most basic drives in magic: (1) love, (2) revenge (curse), and (3) wisdom. The main purpose behind the inclusion of these formulas is to suggest paths to greater runic power through a variety of techniques within the general realm of talismanic magic.
Rituals to gain the love of another have been one of the principal subjects of runecraft since ancient times. However, as a previous example has shown, the successful attempts of runic love magic were performed with what we might today call “good intentions.” This does not stem from any moralistic accretion in the runic system but rather from the complex nature of sexual energies and relationships. It simply seems that love magic works much more effectively, and the variable are kept to a minimum, when the simpler emotion of “true love” is involved.
Figure 22.14. A runic formula for successful love magic.
A runic formula for successful love magic is made up of the staves shown in figure 22.14. The rune count is 6 (multiple: 2 x 3). The runic total is 60 (multiple: 6 x 10). See section on numerical symbolism.
Figure 22.15. Bind rune of a love-magic formula.
A tine should be created, perhaps using the bind rune shown in if gure 22.15. This bind rune uses the alternate form of the E-rune, .
During the loading process each of the staves must first be carved and loaded separately, then bound together in a single field of force during the coloring phase. On the reverse side of the tine (or next to the galdrastafir, if space is a problem) the names of the persons to be brought together should be etched. This of course takes place in step three of the loading ritual. Great care should be taken to bring maximum imaginative and emotional force to bear in the identification of the three entities involved—the two lovers and the runic forces of attraction, binding, and love. The loaded tine could be worn by the runer to attract the lover to him/her, or it could be placed in a location near the desired one, such as under his/her bed, under or over a threshold through which the beloved one regularly passes, and so on.
An alternate form of this spell involves etching all the elements of the talismanic formula on a piece of jewelry that is then given to the future lover of the vitki. This of course may be done only in certain special circumstances. The vitki must know the desired one well enough for this to be proper and effective, and it must be known that he or she will wear or be near the object for at least some period of time. This type of rune spell also may necessitate the use of secret runic codes. The future lover might be suspicious of “mystic signs” carved on the jewel. If, for example, a medallion is the object in question, the reverse side might be encoded as shown in figure 22.16. (See section on runic codes in chapter 7 for further information.)
Figure 22.16. Encoded form of a love-magic formula. The markings at the top form 3:1, meaning third row, first rune.
The names could be inscribed using the same code in the side spaces on the rim of the form. In such cases the vitki should perform the loading ritual in the usual fashion, except that when the coded representations are etched, the rune should be strongly visualized and loaded into the numerical symbol. The imagination and talent of the runer are the only limits to the ingenuity this type of talisman may reach. But one must be strong in the basic magical skills and be very familiar with the runic system to make this type of talisman work. One of the most powerful portions of a rite of this kind is the formáli, in which a poem of true love and burning lust should be composed and loaded with passionate sexual energy.
Revenge and Defense
This is called “revenge” and “defense” and not merely “curse” because it should be performed only when the vitki has been harmed in some way by the intended victim of the operation or when the victim would have harmed the vitki or his/her loved ones had the dreaded niding pole not been raised to crush the adversary.
The nidhstöng or cursing pole (literally “pole of insult or libel”) is a long pole on which formulas of insult and curse are carved; then the pole is partially sunk into the ground facing toward the victim's home. The head of the pole is furnished with a horse's head or a representation of the victim in some obscene position. The sagas abound with stories about these niding poles. In order to perform a niding ritual, the vitki will need a stick or pole two feet or more in length, a sculpture of a horse's head or a carved representation of the victim. In ancient times the Ásatúar-skalds often composed niding poems and raised poles against the Christian clerics who were invading the Northland.
The pole acts as a magnet for the deadly forces of Hel, which are drawn up through the pole from the subterranean streams and projected through the horse's head, or other representation, to the victim. The inscription on the pole forms the stream and gives its mission.
The actual performance of a niding-pole ritual is somewhat simpler than other talismanic operations. Find a suitable location to set up the pole (it need not be especially near the victim, but it is best if it is within sight of his/her/their dwelling place). Go to the work-stead at midnight and perform a proper opening rite. Spend some time in meditative silence, working up your emotional power against the victim. In this state compose a prosaic or poetic runic formula of niding. An example would be:
Three thruses I threw to thee
(thurisaz thurisaz thurisaz) and three
ices too (isa isa isa).13
All the wild wights and all the
fierce fetches worried and warted thy
sorry soul—Hel hast thee now
Transliterate the formáli into runes (see Appendix IV on page 295) and ritually carve them into the pole. It is necessary to color only the staves :: and :: Set the figurehead on the pole and sink it into the ground, repeating the niding formula. Imagine the forces of Hel—the Goddess of Death—sending forth all her might in streams of blackish (or whatever color the vitki might associate with destruction) “light” toward the doomed victim. Now the vitki should imagine the victim destroyed by the forces of Hel and returned to her dark embrace. The marked soul is smashed by the TH-runes and squashed and restricted by the I-runes. The ritual is concluded by breaking the sphere of working and projecting all residue through the figurehead to the target. Leave the pole standing until the desired result has been accomplished.
In days of yore the niding poles usually were raised against political or religious enemies rather than purely personal ones. The vitki must always ask his or her inner-most self whether or not the niding pole is the right (::) solution to the situation.
A curse may also be cast in a talismanic form that is given secretly to the victim or placed somewhere in close proximity to him/her in much the same way the love spell works.
Draught of Wisdom
With the draught of wisdom the vitki loads a rune tine, scrapes the runes into a drink of mead, ale, or beer, and drinks it down—rune might and all! In the sixth stanza of the “Sigrdrífumál” we read a fine example of this practice in the context of an initiatory ritual. The valkyrja, Sigrdrífa, says to the hero, Sigurdhr:
I bring thee beer
thou warrior of battle14
blended with might
and mighty renown;
it is full of songs
and soothing staves
and mighty runes.
The valkyrja then teaches the hero rune lore.
To absorb a dose of rune wisdom the vitki should duly load a rune tine according to ritual form—except do not color the runes with pigment, instead wet them with mead, ale, or beer. Also, do not carve them deeply but rather etch them lightly into the surface of the tine. After the loading is complete, take the rune knife and scrape off the runes into the cup of mead while singing a formula such as
I shave the shining runes,
and their shaping-might,
from the wood of wisdom;
into the draught they drop!
Then mix the contents well with the rune knife, while repeating a formula such as
Rune-might be mixed
with this mead of wisdom,
blended together in a bond of strength.
Now hold the cup or horn aloft with the words:
Ódhrærir roar into the draught!
Drink the contents of the cup or horn to the dregs. During all this ritual action concentrate on the blending of forces, their vivification in the holy mead of inspiration, and your personal system and its absorption of those forces. This technique may be adopted for a variety of magical or mystical operations, and it is a potent tool in group work and initiatory rites.
ALU: Magical Power and Divine Inspiration
One of the oldest and still most effective runic formulas is ALU, which appears on stones and talismans from as early as 400 C.E. The word literally means “ale.” Alu originally was a term for magical power and divine inspiration. The term was later transferred to one of the main symbols of this power and inspiration, the intoxicating brew. This power was often used to protect sacred sites from the uninitiated. The formula may be modulated in a variety of ways and may be inscribed a-1-u or u-1-a; the A-rune may fare either direction. The numerical formula also is quite potent. Figure 22.17 shows a rune count of 3 (multiple: 1 x 3 [prime]). The rune total is 27 (multiple: 3 x 9). The force of alu seems to be one of almost perpetual motions constantly turning in on itself and intensifying itself. A tine created with this formula will impart general protection, while providing wisdom, inspiration, magical power, and good health within a lawful life.
Figure 22.17. The alu formula.
The single stave that stood for the yew tree was always a powerful symbol of protection (among other things!). The formula shown in figure 22.18 is a “translation” and magical adaptation of an ancient formula of yew magic. The numerical analysis reveals a rune count of 13 (multiple: 1 x 13 [prime]) and a rune total of 160 (multiple: 10 x 16). The yew force is reemphasized and brought into material manifestation.
Figure 22.18. Adaptation of an ancient formula for yew magic.
Note also the long staves on the A-runes. This distinguishes them for a particular interpretation (3 x 4 = 12), which is intended to say “the blessings of ansuz (Odinic force) in all three realms of being throughout the year” (::). If possible, this tine should be fashioned from yew wood. This formula is a good example of how much depth can be plugged into even a modern English version of a runic formula.
The following talismanic galdrastafir suggest some of the countless ways in which these bind runes may be used.
For general success in all the affairs of day-to-day life, the runes :: may be combined as in figure 22.19—a powerful formula for artists, magicians, and lovers in the realms of action, and also magically powerful as an invocation of force in all nine worlds. Many other levels of potency also may be infused into this galdrastafir.
Figure 22.19. A bind rune for success.
For obtaining justice, whether it be from a court of law or from the “court of life,” use a combination of the runes : : in the form shown in figure 22.20.
Figure 22.20. A bind rune for justice. The numerical analysis reveals a doubling of the force of the T-rune.
One of the more obvious cosmic and magical concerns of the runic system is that of prosperity and well-being. This is facilitated by a mighty galdrastafir made up of two F-runes, four TH-runes, and the NG- and O-runes in the symmetrical configuration shown in figure 22.21. A quick analysis by the runer reveals the manifold sources of power contained in this bind rune.
Figure 22.21 A bind rune for prosperity and well-being.
Figure 22.22. Pattern for carving a bind rune.
Again it might be well to point out that in the carving and loading or such bind runes each intended stave must be either carved individually or reinforced within the collective configuration, and definitely they must be initially charged individually. The order of carving for the talismanic bind rune portrayed above is shown in figure 22.22. After the fifth stage the four TH-runes concealed in the figure should be deepened with the proper number of repetitions of the galdr.
Death of Rune Tines
In most runic formálar not only should the definite purpose of the talismanic being be stated but also the length of time the wight is to live, that is, be vivified with magical force. A convenient formula for this is “until thy work is wrought.” Since the wight of the tine is a living being, its death should be attended with proper ritual. This is to insure that the magical force stored up in the form will be redirected back to its source (the vitki), or as a form of sacrifice.
There are two principal methods for effecting this important ritual act. The first emphasizes the animate nature of the tine wight and is modeled on funeral rites. There are two types of funeral rituals of reabsorption: cremation and burial. The former is most effective in returning the power to the personal sphere of the vitki through the heavenly streams, while the latter is a powerful way to direct the power through the chthonic streams. The second method, which emphasizes the dynamistic nature of the rune might, prescribes a ritual removal of the runes from the tine, using the knife. The scrapings are then burned in the brazier. (This is also a method of banishing the rune magic of another runer.) In all cases this should be done with simple dignity, attended by proper formálar of the vitki's own composition. Proper respect should be paid to the wight, the rune might, and the shaper of the tine—the vitki. This “ecology of power” is rather like the ancient Norse lore of rebirth, which postulates that the innate might of the ancestors is continually reformed in the descendants.
Word and Bind Rune Magic
We have met with formulaic words such as alu and laukaz elsewhere in this book. These formulas are Proto-Germanic words used, written in runes, which convey the essence of the meaning of that word in a magical or operative way. The vitki of today is also free to discover other archaic and powerful words from our ancestral past which can express this same sort of power. The words in Proto-Germanic reflect the original form of many of the words we still use today. In this case, however, they are in their most original and therefore most powerful and essential forms. These are naturally and authentically expressed in the runes of the Elder Futhark and so, with a little work, can be rediscovered and used for magical effects today. This authenticity adds to the magical effectiveness of the work because the forms more perfectly resonate with the original forms from ancient original language.
The topic of bind runes has already been addressed in several sections of this book. I would be remiss, however, if I did not provide more operative information about how to use them in a practical way in their own right. Because we have come to understand, and I hope internalize, the meanings of the runes as unique individual signs, “memes” in the current jargon of the day, in order to effect precise and nuanced meanings in our workings we now have to learn how to weld the individual runes together into coherent magical messages which will enter into the causal horizon of events and bring what we desire into our lives.
In ancient times this was done in several ways: with formulaic words (e.g., alu) as well as poetic works in which the runic message is incorporated directly into the natural language of the vitki-skald. Poets could cause direct effects with their words consciously understood in a runic way. Another way in which this was done, and for which we have direct evidence in the Icelandic magical tradition, is the taking of magically potent words or names, for example names of the god Odin, and turning them into bind runes. The same can be done for words that one finds particularly useful for a specific magical working.
One can find lexicons of Proto-Germanic words in many sources online or in libraries. One that is recent and in English (most of them tend to be in German) is the book A Handbook of Germanic Etymology by Vladimir Orell (Brill, 2003). Another source is the etymological appendix in the American Heritage Dictionary. By way of example, here are ten Proto-Germanic words, transcribed into runes, which might be used in this manner.
rikjadomaz: dominion, wealth
meduz: mead (inspiration)
segaz: victory (success)
wurdhawîsaz: wise in words
hailaz: good luck omen
santhaz: truth, justice
The same procedural technique can be used to discover other words of power and simply write them in Elder Futhark runes to create your own magical formulaic words. The key to accurate usage is not to try to do grammatical things with the basic words beyond using their simple forms as entered in the lexicons. Technically speaking these are nominate singular forms of the words. If one were to try to make sentences out of them, it would require them to take on different grammatical endings, and so on. The old formulaic words tended to be in this form. The Proto-Germanic language was a highly inflected one with many grammatical changes and endings. Going beyond the basic forms can often lead to confused messages which do not resonate over time and space to effect magical changes.
To create bind runes out of them, one puts them together as a sort of monogram, keeping in mind that repeated runes do not need to be accounted for, and that normal arrangement and orientation of the runes can be altered for aesthetic reasons. To create a taufr made in this fashion generally follow the ritual outlined above, and design your formula both in runes and optionally as a bind rune. Write it in red ink on parchment paper, or carve it, and dye it red on a thin flat piece of wood. Once it is completed hide it, or put it in a pouch or small bag to carry on your person, but do not look at it again. Allow the power of the runes to work for you “behind the scenes” from an unconscious level.
Here is an example using the formula meduz for inspiration. The runes appear as: which can be formed into a bind rune that could appear something like the bind rune shown in figure 22.23. Note, too, that the word can be written as a bind rune in the way shown in figure 22.24 as well:
Figure 22.23. Bind rune for meduz.
The writing of the sounds in runes opens the sounds to a mode of solidification in the world of events and human experience. The binding of these together into a single form makes their entry into the unconscious and into the causal realm of the world much easier. Make this taufr and wear it on your person and let it work and you will be open to the higher realms of the mead of the gods.
Figure 22.24. Alternate bind rune for meduz.
Many readers will probably be reminded of the techniques pioneered by the English magician and artist Austin Osman Spare. Evidence that his particular techniques had already been explored by Icelandic magicians many hundreds of years before he lived is shown by the following example.
We find the name of a magical stave in an Icelandic book of magic called thekkur. This is a name of Odin with the meaning of “beloved.” It would therefore be effective in workings of magic intended to gain a good spouse. The sign is constructed from a bind rune made up of the (younger) runes: combined to form the bind rune shown in figure 22.25:
Figure 22.25. Bind rune for Odin as “beloved.”
Figure 22.26. “Thekkur.”
This is then stylized in the spirit of fifteenth-century aesthetics to form the final sign called “thekkur” and which appears in the manuscripts as shown in figure 22.26.
This process clearly mirrors that of Spare in many of its particulars. His “rediscovery” of this technique could, I suppose, belong to the category of “atavism” that he was so fond of writing about.
This discipline is heavily indebted to the work of twentieth-century runic magicians of Germany who developed a system they call Runenyoga. In the writings of Siegfried Adolf Kummer, Friedrich Bernhard Marby, and Karl Spiesberger there is much concerning Runen-Asana, Runen-mudra, and so on. Marby called his system Runengymnastik. Indeed, they seem a bit too dependent on the kindred Indian discipline. Nevertheless, their practical experiments, invaluable clues, and ritual formulas are the basis for the following work.
Theory and Use
In comparison to what yoga became in later centuries, stadhgaldhr is an active system of magic that consists of the assumption of runic postures or gestures for operative magical effect, both within the vitki and in his or her environment. Both systems are most probably derived from the same common Indo-European root tradition of magical and symbolic gestures.
Gestures and postures form some part of almost every metaphysical or magical school. They can be seen from the simple folding of hands in prayer to the extremely complex system of asanas in the Indian hatha yoga school. Stadhagaldr is balanced in this respect. The number and intricacy of the postures are varied enough to be expressive of the wide variety of forces present, but none require extensive training or straining of the body. The great advantage of stadhagaldr in the runic system is that it allows the actual shape of the stave to be embodied in the physical apparatus of the vitki. This can result in the embodiment of the entire runic mystery in the flesh of the vitki, thereby turning the body itself into an awesome magical tool! The overall aims of stadhagaldr are:
(1) Control of the body through posture (stadha)
(2) Control of thought through song (galdr)
(3) Control of breath
(4) Control of emotion
(5) Becoming aware of the rune realms of the self and of the world(s)
(6) Control and direction of the will
Each of these aims should be striven for in turn, until all six have been mastered.
It must be stressed vigorously that the body should not be viewed as something evil or as an enemy to be defeated or whipped into submission but rather as a source for great and holy energy, obtainable through no other medium, if only directed in harmony with the hugr. The body is the vitki's personal portion of Midhgardhr, the balanced center of the multiverse containing the potential of all the worlds.
Stadhagaldr is used as a mode of psychological integration and personal transmutation, and it is also employed in all other types of magical operations. The vitki may, for example, literally build a numinous, living runic talisman within the body through stadhagaldr, so that he or she becomes a walking rune tine! The principles of runic combination and blending work with stadhagaldr in exactly the same way they function with the tine or sign magic. The stödhur are just an alternate mode of expression for the rune might.
Intake of World and Earth Streams
The practice of this magical form is closely connected to the mysteries of the rune streams. The runic postures act as antennas of force by which the vitki may attract, modulate, and reproject rune might for magical purposes.
As the vitki knows, there are three types of rune streams: the heavenly, the terrestrial, and the subterranean or chthonic. The heavenly and chthonic streams are world or cosmic streams and are not peculiar to this planet, as are the terrestrial streams that flow just under and above the surface of the earth. The individual self contains counterparts to each of these streams, which act as a matrix through which the rune streams act upon and affect us. These streams are perceived in many different ways: some are vibrations; others are waves, flows, rays, and even contractions. The induction of these forces is the mainstay of stadhagaldr.
Power is actually drawn in through the hands and/or feet and head, directly to the central axis of the vitki. There it is absorbed and modulated, then reemitted for specific purposes or assimilated to alter the self of the vitki. Each runic posture receives and/ or transmits force in a particular pattern, and from various realms, according to its shape. This power is directly connected to the physical world through the medium of the human nervous system. When performing the various rune stödhur, the vitki should visualize and feel the flows of force being gathered or projected in a particular pattern through the body, which is in the form of the stave. This will feel as if electric current is passing through your body and will appear as rays of light coursing in angular patterns. Each individual vitki should let personal experience take precedence over anything read in this or any other book. Personal feelings and reactions, rather than “logical” thought processes, are more effective guidelines in the realm of practical magic. This is especially true in stadhagaldr.
Table 22.4 on page 278 shows four examples of rune shapes, their patterns of power, and the realms of being they engage, and may give some practical hints for more fruitful development. The arrows indicate the directions in which the force streams. These are based on personal practice and observation and should in no way be taken as dogma. Notice that the diagonals sometimes feel as if they were terrestrial links and sometimes as if they were links to the heavenly or subterranean realms. This is true even with the same rune on different occasions, for the rune world is hardly a static one! A good rune vitki will attempt to experience all of these forces empirically, and with increased skill he or she will then begin to divide and classify the raw forces into their finer runic characteristics. With proper and persistent practice empirical results will arise.
Table 22.4. Some patterns of force streams.
The ancient vitkar knew well the power of the earth streams, for they formed one of their mightiest mysteries. The best work-stead for stadhagaldr is a known “power point” where the earth and world streams (the horizontal and vertical) flow together. These are known by all cultures all over the world. The vitki should seek these out for important rites of stadhagaldr.
The human being is constantly being bombarded by power flowing from above, below, and all corners of the earth; the task is to control this influx and direct it. We receive the power of brightness from the wide expanse of space, and we induct the constricting force of darkness churning in the center of the earth. It is most important that we realize both extremes and consciously seek them out, develop them to their limits, and center them in our consciousness.
Before attempting any practical magical work in this system, the stödhur of all the runes to be used in the operation should be mastered through an intense program of meditational exercise with the runic postures in question. The subject of this kind of force in circulation in and around the earth is handled in some more detail in Rune Might (Inner Traditions, 2018).
Opening Formula in Stadhagaldr
A work of stadhagaldr may begin with the general opening rite given in the section on talismanic magic, or the vitki may use a special stadhasetning (posture rite) for engaging the runic forces. This is a powerful rite with which to practice stadhagaldr, and therefore these three stödhur should perhaps be mastered first. Here, as in the following rites, a stave presented beside a galdr/formáli indicates that the vitki should assume the stadha of the rune and sing its formulaic galdr and/or the formáli that loads the ritual actions with more refined intentions (see table 22.5).
Self-knowing, I am a staff for beams and waves of rune might.
Self-knowing, I shape the might from the deepest depths out of the realms of the earth out of the womb of Hel (or the earth mother).
Self-knowing, I shape the might from the highest heights out of the wide world out of Heimdallr's realm.
Table 22.5. Stödhur for engaging runic forces.
The performance of any single rune stadha may of course be considered a rite. This is especially true if the vitki composes a formáli to be recited after the galdr is sung. This formáli will give specific shape and purpose to the runic force engendered by the operation. The possibilities for potent works of simple beauty are almost limitless. The following rites of combined runic forces are essentially made up of several of these simpler rites blended together to form a more complex magical effect. They describe flows or processes of power aimed toward a specific goal, such as Increase in Magical Power (page 280), Success and Victory (page 281), Increase in Creative Force (page 282), and a Rite of Need on page 283. The advantage of stadha-ritual work is that it provides keys to various realms of consciousness, and it inspires the vitki to the greatest power, if properly performed on all levels of being.
Our aim in the rites of stadhagaldr is the blending of several runic forces into one single concentrated and directed stream of power with a definite goal or aim. This is to be achieved by combining the forms and sounds of various runes together into a single force field of action. The symbol of the operation may be a series of runes or a bind rune drawn on the floor or ground or on a board lying on the altar or hung at eye level on the wall in front of the vitki. This form should be the focal point of concentration throughout the entire ritual.
These ritual formulas also may be adapted as talismanic or sign magical rites. They are also powerful formulas for the creation of meditative bind-rune sendings.
Increase in Magical Power
Mannaz, unfetter the flow of godly might in me.
Rune-might is shaped by uruz.
Fiery fehu-might flows to me.
The might of Odin streams to me.
The gift of the Gods grows in me.
Rune-streams meet in me and beam whither I send them—with full knowledge.
Self-knowing I steer myself and the streams.
Rune-might streams between me and the Worlds along the rainbow of light.
Rune-might work in me.
Rune-might work through me.
Success and Victory
Norn-rune fend off the fetters of wyrd and turn the need.
Grow and thrive through fehu.
Speed overcomes in me! Steering might of sowilo (the sun) lead me from success to success.
Tyr—Tyr Fruit of the fight—victory!
My deeds make me grow, forever in might and main.
Mannaz! Word of fullness be the fulfiller of my wishes.
Make all the good wax great.
Hail and fullness work through the year!
Well-being waxes happiness grows in itself.
Our deeds make us grow, forever in might and main.
Norn-rune fend off the fetters and turn the need!
Warding might of the World, stream to me. Warding might of the World, work in me. Warding might of the World, work through me.
Increase in Creative Force
Fiery fehu-might flows to me.
Uruz shapes the rune-might.
Rune-streams meet in me and beam whither I send them.
The might of my word waxes.
On the right road I wander.
Skill comes to me through the might of kenaz knowledge and World-wisdom wax in me through kenaz.
The speed of sowilo (the sun) steers me.
Tyr—Tyr Will of speedy shaping successfully stream through me.
Hail and fullness—gifts of the good year!
Rite of Need
Norn-rune fend off the fetters of wyrd, turn the need. Thou art my need—through thee I overcome need.
Wight of the World—wood give good speed and help! I take up the runes, I take up my need!
Need-fire flame in me!
Mannaz! Word of fullness be the fulfiller of my needs and unfetter the flow of rune-might.
Rune-might streams between me and the worlds along the rainbow of light.
Need-fire flame in me!
Steering might of the sun lead me forward.
Need-fire flame in me!
(Repeat this until the fire is enkindled in your breast.)
The Ritual Talisman
Whether or not the vitki is performing a talismanic loading ritual, a symbol describing the particular runic operation may be formed to serve as a lasting outward symbol of the holy inner process that takes place in the rite. This is usually a bind rune or rune row, which is incised into or painted on a board or paper. This should be displayed in some place where the vitki will see it regularly and thus constantly reaffirm his or her link to the magical force. It also may be portrayed on a small object the vitki carries.
This technique should be used only in cases where the vitki desires to effect an internal change in his or her own consciousness. For operations that intend to affect the outside environment the vitki should expend all possible energy during the ritual, then make a complete break with the force, thus releasing it to do its work. In the latter case a constant reminder would only hinder the successful fulfillment of the vitki's will.
The practice of sign magic involves the blending of the techniques of signing and sending with those of galdr (incantation). This form of magic is the most difficult because it requires the greatest amount of concentration and visualization to be maximally effective. Once the techniques have been mastered, however, it promises to be the most direct and effective form of galdr available to the vitki. The techniques of signing and sending already have been mentioned, and the vitki is by now quite familiar with several aspects of incantation. Here we will deepen this knowledge and direct it in more specific technical channels toward formulating the basis of signingagaldr (the magic of signs). The main difference between the signing found in this section and that used in the loading of tines is that here the signs are directed toward and melded with already living systems, be they wights or dynamistic fields of runic force.
The idea behind sign magic is that the vitki actually may cut runes into the living fabric of the multiverse, melding that rune might with a symbolic “target” that has been formulated by the hugr of the vitki through concentrated visualization, thus bringing about a change in that target. This is only one of many ways to use the techniques of sign magic. This process may be carried out in the hugauga (totally by meditative visualization) or by external ritual work. In both cases the techniques are the same; however, the vitki may wish to begin with the visualization method and work into more difficult ceremonial performance.
The three steps necessary to signingagaldr are (1) the formulation of and/or concentration on a target, (2) the formulation and projection of the willed rune might, and (3) the melding of the previous two into a single field of force such that the second influences the first in the desired way.
To formulate a target for the projected magical force, the vitki will need to set off a “target area.” This is a framework within which the visualized target is held, so that the rune might may be directed into it. This may be either rectangular or triangular in shape. If a triangle is used, the form is preferred. In full ritual work a frame may be constructed from wood and suitably painted or otherwise decorated. The frame may contain a symbol form of the target (a picture, for example), but most often the vitki will magically build the form of the target image within the framework using his or her powers of concentration and visualization.
Once the target is firmly established and bound within the frame, the vitki begins to formulate the willed rune might in the center of his or her body. This power is then projected into the target area and signed in the manner described in the section on sending and signing. The galdr and/or formáli that is sung or spoken should give intention and refined form to the runic power. As the runer signs the rune, it should be as if the force of the sign was actually being infused into the living fabric of the target. The vitki will immediately see the change in the target once the melding of forces is complete.
Although the practice of sending and signing is fairly well known by now, the use of galdr perhaps needs more development in the context of sign magic. Throughout this book we have seen both the sound-formulaic and poetic forms of galdrar. In sign magic both forms may be used, but the vitki should always aim for the more complex poetic form because of the degree of flexibility and exactness that it affords. These “magic songs” are found throughout old Germanic literatures, and indeed for the ancient Teutons (as well as all other Indo-European peoples) the art of poetry grew out of the power of magic.
The galdr serves to aid in the invocation/evocation of the rune might and in its formation within the vitki. But it also aids in projection and linkage of that force to the target through its principal quality—vibration.
The following techniques should be followed throughout the practice of sending and signing, for all the elements mentioned in this section must be understood as the multifold expression of a single force—the will of the runer. The breath should be the focal point of concentration throughout the galdr. During inhalations the vitki concentrates on the flow of rune might into the personal center.
There it is momentarily held for exact formulation, and then, on exhalation, the portion of the galdr that is to be projected is intensely concentrated on. Most galdrar of all types require several breaths to perform completely. One line of the incantation may be performed with each breath. In the case of poetic galdrar the vitki should “runically” concentrate on each letter-sound of every word in the incantation—feeling their force. Do not necessarily think about their meaning; if it is well composed, the galdr will seem to do its own work. What is important here is the flow of force, its formulation, and its projection in a smooth concentrated pattern that becomes almost unconscious to the accomplished vitki. A unity is built between the rune might, the vitki, and the target in such a way that the special nature of this magical form soon becomes apparent.
The main magical unity on which the runer must consciously concentrate is that of the sound (of the incantation) and the form (of the stave and the beam of light through which it is projected), all within the common “runic vibration.” Meditational exercises will greatly aid in this process. Incantations may be sung either out loud or within the hugr. Also, when they are spoken out loud, the galdrar may be sonorously and boomingly sung or softly whispered. The former seems more effective when the vitki is performing a rite in solitude or in the company of fellow vitkar, while the latter is often more powerful when non-vitkar are present.
Because this form of galdr comes so close to an unconscious, meditational approach, it is most necessary to memorize all aspects of the rite before it is performed. This is generally a good suggestion for all rites, but it is especially necessary here. A successful try at signingagaldr is dependent on a curious and magnificent blend of all segments of the runer's psychosomatic complex. The unexpected mystical “fringe benefits” of these operations are often astounding.
Perhaps a further note should be added concerning poetic galdrar. These certainly may be composed in English. (See Appendix III for technical suggestions in this matter.) Much thought should go into their composition as to both form and content. The dedicated vitki will undertake the study of Old Norse and/or other old Germanic dialects (e.g., Old English, Gothic, and Old High German), for these languages vibrate with magico-mythic qualities that are hard to conjure up in modern English. But what is most important is that the vitki find a magically potent language and poetic form that speaks with the voice of his or her unconscious realms.